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View Full Version : Obamacare enrollments got off to very slow start, documents show 6 total on the first day. LOL


UltimateHoboW/Shotgun
11-01-2013, 12:15 PM
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57610328/obamacare-enrollments-got-off-to-very-slow-start-documents-show/

(CBS News) WASHINGTON - For 31 days now, the Obama administration has been telling us that Americans by the millions are visiting the new health insurance website, despite all its problems.

But no one in the administration has been willing to tell us how many policies have been purchased, and this may be the reason: CBS News has learned enrollments got off to an incredibly slow start.

Early enrollment figures are contained in notes from twice-a-day "war room" meetings convened within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services after the website failed on Oct. 1. They were turned over in response to a document request from the House Oversight Committee.

The website launched on a Tuesday. Publicly, the government said there were 4.7 million unique visits in the first 24 hours. But at a meeting Wednesday morning, the war room notes say "six enrollments have occurred so far."

They were with BlueCross BlueShield North Carolina and Kansas City, CareSource and Healthcare Service Corporation.

By Wednesday afternoon, enrollments were up to "approximately 100." By the end of Wednesday, the notes reflect "248 enrollments" nationwide.

The health care exchanges need to average 39,000 enrollees a day to meet the goal of seven million by March 1. The war room notes give a glimpse into some of the reasons customers had problems:

"Direct enrollment (signing up directly on an insurer's website) is not working for any issuers."
"Experian" credit reporting agency is "creating confusion with credit check information."
"Issuer phone numbers are not appearing correctly on the Pay Now page."
Issa subpoenas Sebelius for HealthCare.gov documents
Sebelius: "Hold me accountable for the debacle" of HealthCare.gov
Complete Coverage: Obamacare Kicks Off

The notes leave no doubt that some enrollment figures, which the administration has chosen to keep secret, are available.

"Statistics coming in," said notes from the very first meeting the morning of Oct. 2. Contractor "QSSI has a daily dashboard created every night."

But head of CMS Marilyn Tavenner would not disclose any figures when Rep. Dave Camp, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, asked earlier this week.

"Chairman Camp, we will have those numbers available in mid-November," she said.

Health and Human Services told CBS News Thursday it's in no position to confirm or discuss enrollment figures because it doesn't have any. A spokesman suggested the numbers obtained by CBS News may not include all the different ways to enroll, such as paper applications. The spokesman also said that enrollment figures in Massachusetts' health care plan started off negligible but then skyrocketed as a deadline neared.

HealthCare-Gov.pdf by CBSPolitics


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barryr
11-01-2013, 05:44 PM
But it's been such a rousing success, ignore the facts and numbers.

UltimateHoboW/Shotgun
11-01-2013, 05:49 PM
But it's been such a rousing success, ignore the facts and numbers.

Dem/Libs never let facts get in the way of taking over your life.

B-Large
11-02-2013, 08:15 AM
I'm signing up next year in Maine.... Thank you President Obama

The Lone Bolt
11-02-2013, 11:05 AM
Last I read over 25,000 Washingtonians have signed up for new coverage under Washington State health plan finder. I'm sure the numbers for the national site would be comparable if not for the technical issues.

UltimateHoboW/Shotgun
11-02-2013, 11:42 AM
Last I read over 25,000 Washingtonians have signed up for new coverage under Washington State health plan finder. I'm sure the numbers for the national site would be comparable if not for the technical issues.

Show me the article.

The Lone Bolt
11-02-2013, 12:20 PM
Show me the article.

Oops. I was wrong. The number is 49,000.

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2022143856_acawanumbersxml.html

Yes, most are Medicaid, but...

An additional 92,000 Washington residents have completed applications, about 20,000 more than the previous week. Among that group, more than 76,000 are in households in which at least one member is enrolled in a qualified health plan.

Applicants have completed the entire process of enrollment except the final step, providing payment information for the first month’s premium. That payment is not due until Dec. 23.

Rohirrim
11-02-2013, 12:27 PM
I find Hobo's obsessive fixation on Obamacare pathetic. It also has a frantic quality to it that is disturbing. It reminds of when you look into Michelle Bachmann's eyes.

UltimateHoboW/Shotgun
11-02-2013, 12:32 PM
Oops. I was wrong. The number is 49,000.

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2022143856_acawanumbersxml.html

Yes, most are Medicaid, but...

Nice skip...............Moron.

Of the 49,000 who have enrolled, nearly 6,400 have signed up for the “qualified health plans” that insurance companies are offering through Healthplanfinder in the individual market. That is an increase of 40 percent over the week before, the exchange noted.

The other 42,000 residents have enrolled in Medicaid coverage.

Obamacare only work when young people pay the high premium to help older people.

The Lone Bolt
11-02-2013, 12:40 PM
I find Hobo's obsessive fixation on Obamacare pathetic. It also has a frantic quality to it that is disturbing. It reminds of when you look into Michelle Bachmann's eyes.

Yep. The righties here are really freaking out, especially Hobo.

The Lone Bolt
11-02-2013, 12:43 PM
Nice skip...............Moron.



Obamacare only work when young people pay the high premium to help older people.

No evidence at all to support that claim. We're early in the process and as the article points out an additional 92K Washington State residents have completed the enrollment process and just need to take the final step.

And the experience in MA was that most people procrastinated until the last moment. You'll see a rush of enrollment as the deadline approaches.

UltimateHoboW/Shotgun
11-02-2013, 12:45 PM
No evidence at all to support that claim. We're early in the process and as the article points out an additional 92K Washington State residents have completed the enrollment process and just need to take the final step.

And the experience in MA was that most people procrastinated until the last moment. You'll see a rush of enrollment as the deadline approaches.

You want "single payer" go to England and Canada and find out how great it is. Ask the Govenor of Nova Scotia. Its so awesome he came to the US to get heart surgury. dumba$$

DenverBrit
11-02-2013, 02:44 PM
You want "single payer" go to England and Canada and find out how great it is. Ask the Govenor of Nova Scotia. Its so awesome he came to the US to get heart surgury. dumba$$

LOL. Clueless as always.

Over at “Think Progress,” Igor Volksy reports that, while speaking to a crowd in Calgary, Canada last weekend Sarah Palin revealed a tidbit about her life growing up not far from Whitehorse:

“We used to hustle over the border for health care we received in Canada,” she said. “And I think now, isn't that ironic?”

http://www.pnhp.org/sites/default/files/images/2012/carroll-canada-graph1.gif

5 Myths About Canada’s Health Care System
The truth may surprise you about international health care

To separate fact from fiction, Aaron E. Carroll, M.D., the director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research in Indianapolis, identified the top myths about the two health care systems.
http://www.aarp.org/politics-society/government-elections/info-03-2012/myths-canada-health-care.html

The Lone Bolt
11-02-2013, 03:48 PM
You want "single payer" go to England and Canada and find out how great it is. Ask the Govenor of Nova Scotia. Its so awesome he came to the US to get heart surgury. dumba$$

Actually I'm opposed to a single payer system. I think the ACA/Romneycare/Swiss model will prove to be better than both single payer and the mess we've had until now.

Rohirrim
11-02-2013, 04:49 PM
Actually I'm opposed to a single payer system. I think the ACA/Romneycare/Swiss model will prove to be better than both single payer and the mess we've had until now.

I see you live in Everett. What do you think of Vashon Island?

ant1999e
11-02-2013, 04:55 PM
No evidence at all to support that claim. We're early in the process and as the article points out an additional 92K Washington State residents have completed the enrollment process and just need to take the final step.

And the experience in MA was that most people procrastinated until the last moment. You'll see a rush of enrollment as the deadline approaches.

So you're disputing your own source? Funny.

The Lone Bolt
11-02-2013, 05:51 PM
I see you live in Everett. What do you think of Vashon Island?

Never been. Is there anything there worth seeing?

The Lone Bolt
11-02-2013, 05:52 PM
So you're disputing your own source? Funny.

How exactly?

Meck77
11-02-2013, 06:13 PM
The non responses by the obamacare supporters speaks for itself. There is no reason to defend or attack the program. It is what it is.....

Rohirrim
11-02-2013, 08:39 PM
Never been. Is there anything there worth seeing?

We've been throwing around the idea of moving up into that neck of the woods.

barryr
11-03-2013, 07:03 AM
The non responses by the obamacare supporters speaks for itself. There is no reason to defend or attack the program. It is what it is.....

True, deflect and hope the bad news goes away, just like the child mentality they have for every subject. Their media knows this has got to work, so any and every excuse no matter how weak and stupid it sounds, will be used.

UltimateHoboW/Shotgun
11-04-2013, 05:43 PM
http://www.ijreview.com/2013/11/92183-video-carney-give-up/

This exchange between Jon Karl and Jay Carney can be best described as a complete train wreck. The entire video is worth watching, but things really start to heat up around 2:45.

Jon’s question that sparks it all: How can President Obama claim that people can bypass the marketplace website and apply for insurance by phone in 25 minutes, when the call center employees can’t actually sign anyone up until the website is repaired?

Needless to say, Jay gets more than a little flustered as he tries to give Jon a satisfactory response.

“Jon, I give up,” Carney said, since Karl wouldn’t let up. “I think everybody else here understands what I’m saying. I’m sorry I can’t say the same for you,” Carney snarked.

What White House lackies don’t seem to understand is that their blatantly untrue talking points are no longer working, because literally millions can’t miss how incompetent this administration is.

Garcia Bronco
11-04-2013, 05:58 PM
http://www.ijreview.com/2013/11/92183-video-carney-give-up/

I can't understand why the trot someone out there everyday. In my administration we would only talk to those people once a week at least. No more that 3 times.

UltimateHoboW/Shotgun
11-04-2013, 07:44 PM
I can't understand why the trot someone out there everyday. In my administration we would only talk to those people once a week at least. No more that 3 times.

Get to "single payer. 01/01/2014 Comes you will be fined for not having health insurance. By then people will scream for "single payer". Then we will be really screwed. Lets not forget that the "employeer mandate" has been postponed. They estimate when all the mandates in obamacare are in full effect that 129,000,000 will not be able to keep the health insurance they currently have. That's right 129,000,000 million.

Garcia Bronco
11-04-2013, 07:50 PM
Get to "single payer. 01/01/2014 Comes you will be fined for not having health insurance. By then people will scream for "single payer". Then we will be really screwed. Lets not forget that the "employeer mandate" has been postponed. They estimate when all the mandates in obamacare are in full effect that 129,000,000 will not be able to keep the health insurance they currently have. That's right 129,000,000 million.

While single payer has numerous issues, it would be better than this nonsense.

UltimateHoboW/Shotgun
11-04-2013, 08:02 PM
While single payer has numerous issues, it would be better than this nonsense.
http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/top-canadian-politician-chooses-us-health-care
Really? Canada has Single payer a top Canadian politician traveled here to get his heart looked at.

houghtam
11-04-2013, 08:55 PM
http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/top-canadian-politician-chooses-us-health-care
Really? Canada has Single payer a top Canadian politician traveled here to get his heart looked at.

Myths vs. Reality. Post #13. Maybe your dumb ass can start a new thread about that.

http://www.aarp.org/politics-society/government-elections/info-03-2012/myths-canada-health-care.html

Stuff it, clown.

Bronco Yoda
11-04-2013, 09:22 PM
http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/top-canadian-politician-chooses-us-health-care
Really? Canada has Single payer a top Canadian politician traveled here to get his heart looked at.

BFD. We go single payer too what then? All the doctors leave North America? Me no think so.

houghtam
11-04-2013, 09:26 PM
BFD. We go single payer too what then? All the doctors leave North America? Me no think so.

Even if they did all leave North America, where would they go? Please, UltimateMonkeyW/Keyboard, list for me all the developed nations without single payer healthcare that these doctors would go to...

BroncoBeavis
11-04-2013, 10:37 PM
Even if they did all leave North America, where would they go? Please, UltimateMonkeyW/Keyboard, list for me all the developed nations without single payer healthcare that these doctors would go to...

The best ones wouldn't accept government-pay. Or they'd severely restrict how much of it they do.

UltimateHoboW/Shotgun
11-04-2013, 10:41 PM
BFD. We go single payer too what then? All the doctors leave North America? Me no think so.

No. It'll They retire and stop going to med school. There is a reason America has the best health care. And its not because of government.

DenverBrit
11-04-2013, 10:43 PM
http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/top-canadian-politician-chooses-us-health-care
Really? Canada has Single payer a top Canadian politician traveled here to get his heart looked at.

And nearly 1 million US citizens went overseas for surgery and other healthcare treatments.

What's your point??

UltimateHoboW/Shotgun
11-04-2013, 10:48 PM
Myths vs. Reality. Post #13. Maybe your dumb ass can start a new thread about that.

http://www.aarp.org/politics-society/government-elections/info-03-2012/myths-canada-health-care.html

Stuff it, clown.
LOL/ That article address nothing. Deflect all you want. Canada, England health care system sucks and you know it. Why would I or anybody believe you. You beieve obama's "You like it, you can keep it!" line. LOL

UltimateHoboW/Shotgun
11-04-2013, 10:50 PM
And nearly 1 million US citizens went overseas for surgery and other healthcare treatments.

What's your point??

You got a 1 million? LOL. I got 10 million from China, Canada, England, Mexico coming here for the free ER care.

houghtam
11-04-2013, 11:00 PM
LOL/ That article address nothing. Deflect all you want. Canada, England health care system sucks and you know it. Why would I or anybody believe you. You beieve obama's "You like it, you can keep it!" line. LOL

There you have it, folks.

They let anyone on the internets these days.

LOL

peacepipe
11-05-2013, 01:21 AM
There you have it, folks.

They let anyone on the internets these days.

LOL
You can't waste your time dealing with the crap ultimatebobow/****4brains spews. That idiot wouldn't understand what the truth/facts are if it were drawn in crayon.

DenverBrit
11-05-2013, 07:51 AM
You got a 1 million? LOL. I got 10 million from China, Canada, England, Mexico coming here for the free ER care.

As usual, you have no point, you're just a Troll.

cutthemdown
11-05-2013, 08:24 AM
Also any delay of the mandate could be problematic for Obamacare. If they delay the healthy having to sign up then the system won't have enough money coming in, only going out. All the sick sign up, the healthy do not etc. Insurance companies could lose a ton of money then next yr raise rates to make up for it.

cutthemdown
11-05-2013, 08:29 AM
BFD. We go single payer too what then? All the doctors leave North America? Me no think so.

Probably just older ones retire and then not as many young people decide to be doctors.

UltimateHoboW/Shotgun
11-05-2013, 09:05 AM
Probably just older ones retire and then not as many young people decide to be doctors.

There are a shortage of doctors already.

Pony Boy
11-05-2013, 09:06 AM
Probably just older ones retire and then not as many young people decide to be doctors.

You won't see a Doctor on the front line of your medical care, all of those duties will be performed by a Physician Assistant or a Nurse Practitioner.

Doctor’s fresh out of Medical School will go on to specialize in areas that will pay them for the time and money they have invested. There will not be Doctors willing to except Obama care fees unless they are doing payback for government student loans.

Garcia Bronco
11-05-2013, 09:11 AM
There are a shortage of doctors already.

That's the hard part to understand in all this is we haven't really incentivized adding Doctors to the system.

Garcia Bronco
11-05-2013, 09:12 AM
You won't see a Doctor on the front line of your medical care, all of those duties will be performed by a Physician Assistant or a Nurse Practitioner.

Doctor’s fresh out of Medical School will go on to specialize in areas that will pay them for the time and money they have invested. There will not be Doctors willing to except Obama care fees unless they are doing payback for government student loans.

NP's can handle most problems people have

Pony Boy
11-05-2013, 09:41 AM
NP's can handle most problems people have

You're right most that are selected to attend NP school are the cream from the top of the nursing field but with the huge demand for NP's that will probably diminish somewhat. The worry is they are not trained to diagnose a major health issue that may not show any symptoms.

What I see coming would be similar to the military, where a Doctor fresh out of Medical school will be offered a student loan payback if they work 5 years in the Obama care system. I also see Obama care stepping in to offer them protection from any malpractice action as long as they work for the government.

BroncoBeavis
11-05-2013, 09:43 AM
Also any delay of the mandate could be problematic for Obamacare. If they delay the healthy having to sign up then the system won't have enough money coming in, only going out. All the sick sign up, the healthy do not etc. Insurance companies could lose a ton of money then next yr raise rates to make up for it.

Yeah, the more I think about it, the more they're going to have to keep up the mandate charade as long as possible. But there's no way they actually enforce it with the penalty after next year.

How they're going to deal politically with more people losing their insurance under Obamacare than signing up for new policies is anyone's guess.

They're so fundamentally screwed I'm not even sure what the right move is at this point.

UltimateHoboW/Shotgun
11-05-2013, 10:59 AM
That's the hard part to understand in all this is we haven't really incentivized adding Doctors to the system.

Part of it is: why the hell does a doctor need a $1 million dollar insurance policy for malpractise?

DenverBrit
11-05-2013, 10:59 AM
Yeah, the more I think about it, the more they're going to have to keep up the mandate charade as long as possible. But there's no way they actually enforce it with the penalty after next year.

How they're going to deal politically with more people losing their insurance under Obamacare than signing up for new policies is anyone's guess.

They're so fundamentally screwed I'm not even sure what the right move is at this point.

Bi-partisan cooperation to modify/overhaul the ACA is what should happen.

Constant whining about 'repealing' or 'de-funding' isn't going to work. The American public want sustainable and affordable healthcare for all, so trying to kill the bill instead of making it work is not the way forward.

The ACA in a sustainable bill is long overdue and so far has been handled miserably by both parties.

DenverBrit
11-05-2013, 11:10 AM
Part of it is: why the hell does a doctor need a $1 million dollar insurance policy for malpractise?

Why not?? It's dirt cheap and has little impact on healthcare costs....despite the myths. Get rid of the frivolous law suits and the costs will go down further.

Malpractice a Tiny Percentage of Health Care Costs

One of the principal myths surrounding medical malpractice is its effect on overall health care costs. Medical malpractice is actually a tiny percentage of health care costs, in part because medical malpractice claims are far less frequent than many people believe.
In 2004, the CBO calculated malpractice costs amounted to “less than 2 percent of overall health care spending. Thus, even a reduction of 25 percent to 30 percent in malpractice costs would lower health care costs by only about 0.4 percent to 0.5 percent, and the likely effect on health insurance premiums would be comparably small.” i

Five years later, the CBO revisited the issue of medical negligence costs. This time, they attempted to account for the indirect costs of medical negligence, mainly the idea that doctors order extra tests to avoid liability. Again, the CBO found that tort reform would only save 0.5 percent of all health care costs.ii

Other authorities have also found that the direct costs associated with medical negligence are a tiny fraction of health care costs. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the total amount of money spent defending claims and compensating victims of medical negligence in 2010 was $5.8 billion, or just 0.3 percent of the $2.6 trillion spent on health care in the U.S. that same year.iii

http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/justice/hs.xsl/8686.htm

BroncoBeavis
11-05-2013, 11:20 AM
Why not?? It's dirt cheap and has little impact on healthcare costs....despite the myths. Get rid of the frivolous law suits and the costs will go down further.

Malpractice a Tiny Percentage of Health Care Costs


http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/justice/hs.xsl/8686.htm

In 2004, the CBO calculated malpractice costs amounted to “less than 2 percent of overall health care spending.

Funny, that's pretty close to what the estimated cost of services for "The Uninsured" are.

Yet we needed world-changing, market-distorting federal intervention for that part.

DenverBrit
11-05-2013, 11:34 AM
Funny, that's pretty close to what the estimated cost of services for "The Uninsured" are.

Yet we needed world-changing, market-distorting federal intervention for that part.

The ACA has to have more impact on lowering costs and universal coverage of healthcare for it to work.

It is interesting that malpractice costs are almost identical to the uninsured costs.

BroncoBeavis
11-05-2013, 11:45 AM
The ACA has to have more impact on lowering costs and universal coverage of healthcare for it to work.

It is interesting that malpractice costs are almost identical to the uninsured costs.

Yeah, you hear people on the right lean on the malpractice argument too often. It is the corollary to the "poor people visiting ER's" argument.

Both are issues to some extent. But they're not THE issue. Or even close to it.

UltimateHoboW/Shotgun
11-05-2013, 09:43 PM
https://scontent-a-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/1391599_613448092046159_1281610732_n.jpg

UltimateHoboW/Shotgun
11-06-2013, 09:32 AM
<iframe src="http://content.bitsontherun.com/players/w9HbAkgo-OwlNfjNX.html" width="600" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="auto"></iframe>

Smiling Assassin27
11-06-2013, 04:30 PM
New website front page:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BYWIcaWCQAAY_Jk.jpg:large

UltimateHoboW/Shotgun
11-06-2013, 10:10 PM
https://scontent-b-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/1462928_10151791551857971_719779696_n.jpg

UltimateHoboW/Shotgun
11-08-2013, 11:10 AM
https://scontent-b-sjc.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc1/1451509_10151930467546998_1932576462_n.png

Rigs11
11-08-2013, 12:47 PM
"Christians":wiggle::spit:

The Obamacare 'scandal' you haven't heard about

CNN) – The Rev. Timothy McDonald gripped the pulpit with both hands, locked eyes with the shouting worshippers, and decided to speak the unspeakable.

The bespectacled Baptist minister was not confessing to a scandalous love affair or the theft of church funds. He brought up another taboo: the millions of poor Americans who won’t get health insurance beginning in January because their states refused to accept Obamacare.

McDonald cited a New Testament passage in which Jesus gathered the 5,000 and fed them with five loaves and two fishes. Members of his congregation bolted to their feet and yelled, “C’mon preacher” and “Yessir” as his voice rose in righteous anger.

“What I like about our God is that he doesn’t throw people away,” McDonald told First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta during a recent Sunday service. “There will be health care for every American. Don’t you worry when they try to cast you aside. Just say I’m a leftover for God and leftovers just taste better the next day!”

McDonald’s congregation cheered, but his is a voice crying in the wilderness. He’s willing to condemn state leaders whose refusal to accept Obamacare has left nearly 5 million poor Americans without health coverage. But few of the most famous pastors in the Bible Belt will join him.


Joel Osteen? Bishop T.D. Jakes, and other prominent pastors throughout the South?

Like McDonald, they preach in states where crosses and church steeples dot the skyline yet the poor can’t get the health insurance they would receive if they lived elsewhere. All declined to comment.

When people talk about the Affordable Care Act, most focus on the troubled launch of its website. But another complication of the law has received less attention: a “coverage gap” that will leave nearly 5 million poor Americans without health care, according to a Kaiser Health Foundation study.

The coverage gap was created when 25 states refused to accept the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare. The people who fall into this gap make too much money to qualify for Medicaid and not enough to qualify for Obamacare subsidies in their state insurance exchanges. If they lived elsewhere, they would probably get insurance. But because they live in a state that refused the new health care law, they likely will remain among the nation’s uninsured poor after Obamacare coverage kicks in come January.

The coverage gap has been treated as a political issue, but there is a religious irony to the gap that has been ignored.

Most of the people who fall into the coverage gap live in the Bible Belt, a 14-state region in the South stretching from North Carolina to Texas and Florida. The Bible Belt is the most overtly Christian region in the country, filled with megachurches and pastors who are treated like celebrities. All but two Bible Belt states have refused to accept the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.
Should Bible Belt pastors say anything publicly about the millions of poor people in their communities stranded by the coverage gap? Is it anti-Christian for state leaders to turn down help for the people Jesus called “the least of these"? Or should pastors say nothing publicly about such issues because they are strictly political?

CNN's Sanjay Gupta explains who falls into the coverage gap

Who speaks for the poor in the coverage gap?

When these questions were sent to many of the most popular pastors in the Bible Belt, they hit a wall of silence. Virtually no prominent pastor wanted to talk about the uninsured poor in their midst.

Joel Osteen, pastor of the largest church in the nation, declined to be interviewed about the subject. So did Bishop T.D. Jakes. Their megachurches are both in Texas, the state with the nation’s highest number of people without health insurance.

Max Lucado, the best-selling Christian author who is a minister at a church in Texas, declined to speak; Charles Stanley, the Southern Baptist pastor in Georgia whose In Touch Ministries reaches millions around the globe, declined to speak; Ed Young Sr. and Ed Young Jr., a father and son in Texas who pastor two of the fastest-growing churches in the nation, also declined to speak.


Bishop T.D. Jakes declined to talk about the millions of poor people stranded in the “coverage gap."

The list goes on.

The silence is not hard to understand. Obamacare is a polarizing political issue in the Bible Belt. A pastor who publicly weighs in on the subject could divide his or her congregation or risk their job. And some prominent pastors like Osteen are popular in part because they do not alienate fans by taking political stands.

The Rev. Phil Wages, senior pastor Winterville First Baptist Church in Georgia and a blogger, was one of the few Bible Belt ministers willing to speak on the subject.

He says he won’t preach about the coverage gap created by the state’s rejection of the Medicaid expansion because he has what he calls theological differences with the thrust of the new health care law.

Wages says the Bible teaches that the care of orphans, widows and the sick are given to the church, not to the government. Early Christians were the first to create hospitals, orphanages and hospices.

“I have an issue with the government coming in to get money through me - through taxes - to take care of people, when my argument is that I should be free to give to charities or to my church in order to take care of the sick and destitute,” he says.

Wages says he has no doubt that lack of health insurance is a monumental problem, and that many people are poor because of circumstances beyond their control. Yet there is no New Testament example of Jesus trying to shape public policy on behalf of the poor.

“I do not see any biblical precedent where Jesus ever went to Herod or Pilate and said you should be taking care of the poor,” Wages says. “Jesus told his disciples to take care of the poor and the apostles said the same thing to the early church.”


Wages’ position is impractical and unbiblical, says Ronald Sider, a longtime advocate for the poor and author of “The Scandal of Evangelical Politics."

Churches and charities don’t have enough resources to take care of an estimated 48 million Americans who don’t have health care. The Bible is filled with examples of God's fury over economic oppression of the poor, which Christians should regard as scandalous, he says.


“If you are not sharing God’s concern for the poor, it raises huge questions about whether you are a Christian at all,” he says about pastors who say nothing about the uninsured poor.

“As God’s spokespersons, you ought to be talking about God’s concern for the poor as much as God. In the richest nation in world history, it’s contradictory to have millions without health insurance.”

“It absolutely stinks”

The coverage gap may inspire a religious debate, but for its victims the issue is raw and personal.

A recent New York Times article about the coverage gap revealed that many of its victims are the working poor: cooks, cashiers, sales clerks and waitresses.

“These are people who are working people but they haven’t been able to afford health insurance or their employers don’t offer it and they’re stuck,” says Andy Miller, editor of Georgia Health News, a nonprofit news organization that covers health news in the state. “A lot of these folks have chronic health conditions.”

They are people like Shelley “Myra” Mitchell, a single mom with four children who makes $9 an hour working at a Chick-fil-A in Georgia. She makes $18,000 a year – too much for Georgia’s existing Medicaid program, but not enough to qualify for subsidies to sign up for Obamacare’s insurance marketplace in Georgia.

Mitchell’s voice grew edgy with frustration when asked to describe her health needs. She rang up about $20,000 in emergency room bills because she has no health insurance. She can’t afford to get pap smears, go to the dentist or get surgery for a two-year-old hernia. She can’t take medication for her depression and anxiety because she can’t afford it.

She thought she could get help under Obamacare but recently learned she can’t because Georgia did not accept the law’s Medicaid expansion.

“It stinks,” she says. “I’ve been dealing with this hernia for two years now, and I can’t get anyone to help me because I don’t have health insurance. It absolutely stinks.”

Why pastors should stay silent about the coverage gap

Mitchell’s plight may stink. But at what point should a pastor go public on such a complex issue, and what could he or she actually say?

Two prominent evangelical pastors openly wrestled with those questions.

Andy Stanley is one of the most popular evangelical pastors in the nation. He is the senior pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, a megachurch with at least 33,000 members. He is also the author of the forthcoming book “How to be Rich,” which urges Christians to be "rich in good deeds" instead of wealth. His church recently announced that it donated $5.2 million to Atlanta charities and provided another 34,000 volunteer hours.


Joel Osteen has the largest church in America. He also declined to speak about the coverage gap.

Stanley says the coverage gap disturbs him. The church cannot handle the needs of millions of uninsured people alone and should quit taking shots at government involvement, he says. But he adds that it’s not anti-Christian for political leaders in states like Georgia to turn down the Medicaid expansion for the poor.

“If you really want to know how concerned someone is for the poor ask them what percentage of their personal money they give to organizations that help the poor,” he says. “Ask them how much time they give to organizations that help the poor.”

Stanley says it would be difficult for any pastor to talk about the Medicaid expansion without addressing the entire law.

“I tried to imagine a scenario where I urged people to write our governor encouraging him to reconsider his decision regarding the expansion of Medicaid for the poor,” he says. “As I imagined that, I got the feeling that by the time I finished explaining the issue, people’s eyes would be glazed over.”

Pastors who don't preach one way or the other on Medicaid expansion aren't callous or apathetic, says Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. They may be suspicious of a bigger government and skeptical of whether this move will solve the problem.

“The Bible calls on Christians to answer the cries of the poor,” he says. “All Christians must do that. The question of the Medicaid expansion is a question of how we do that. I don’t hear many people arguing that we shouldn’t care about the plight of the poor when it comes to medical care. The question is a genuine debate about the role of the state.”

Moore says some people have a “utopian view” of what state power can accomplish.

“Government programs sometimes encourage dependency, unintentionally break down family structures, and become unsustainable financially,” Moore says.

Bob Coy, pastor of Calvary Chapel megachurch in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, wondered aloud about what he could, and should, say.

Florida, which has the second highest number of people without health insurance behind Texas, has not accepted the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

Coy says he hasn’t spoken publicly about poor people missing health coverage in Florida. But he has called the governor to get more information.

“I’m not an activist guy. I don’t tell the government what to do. I am a church guy. I teach the Bible.”

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t care for the poor, though, Coy says. He grew up in a poor family that couldn’t afford to go to the dentist. His church also spends a large percentage of its budget on serving the poor.

Coy says he is suspicious of large-scale programs that are publicly funded because they are often abused.

“One side of our society is saying, 'We need this,' while on the other side is saying, 'This isn’t fair and isn’t going to work.’ So how should a pastor, who has a heart to help people, respond?”

Why pastors should speak out

The Rev. Shane Stanford’s answer to Coy is simple: Talk about justice for the poor like Jesus did.

Stanford is the senior pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis and author of “Five Stones: Conquering Your Giants.”

He is also HIV-positive. He was born a hemophiliac and contracted the virus when he was 16 during treatment for his illness.

Stanford says he publicly speaks out about the millions of Americans stranded without health coverage because he knows how it feels. Once, after heart surgery, he was getting a transfusion when a nurse came into the room and pulled the needle out of his arm because she said he had maxed out his health insurance coverage.

He says standing up for people in the coverage gap is a matter of justice.

“Sometimes pastors have to tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.”

Stanford ignores fellow pastors who counsel him to be silent about his state and others that refused to accept the Medicaid expansion.

“They say you have to be careful talking about political issues,” he says. “When I look at their lives, part of me thinks they never had that needle yanked out of their arm.”

Conservative pastors who urge their colleagues to avoid politics are hypocrites, says James Cone, a prominent theologian who has spent much of his career writing books condemning white churches for what he says is their indifference to social justice.

“When their own interests are involved, they are very much involved in politics,” Cone says. “Same-sex marriage and abortion – they have no trouble politically opposing them.”

Cone, a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, says a nation is defined by how it treats its most vulnerable members. But there is an entrenched hostility to poor people in America that goes unchallenged by some white, conservative Christians, he says.

“When poor people get food stamps, they get mad,” Cone says. “When the rich and corporations get tax breaks and pay no taxes, they don’t say anything.”

McDonald, the pastor who spoke out on behalf of poor people from his Atlanta church, says Jesus provided universal health care. The Gospels are filled with accounts of Jesus healing marginalized people.

“He did it for free,” McDonald says of Jesus’ healing. “The reason the crowds gathered around Jesus primarily was for healing. People want wholeness.”

Perhaps the gap between Bible Belt pastors who say nothing about the uninsured poor and those who do is also rooted in history.

Conservative Christians have traditionally emphasized providing charity to the poor - soup kitchens, donations to impoverished people in undeveloped countries - while progressive Christians have blended charity with calls for public policy changes that help the poor.

The distinction between both approaches was distilled by a memorable quote from the late Brazilian Roman Catholic Bishop Dom Helder Camara, who said: "When I feed the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why so many people are poor they call me a communist."

That may be changing as a new generation of evangelicals rise in the Bible Belt and elsewhere. One minister who speaks to them is the Rev. Timothy Keller, a conservative Christian author who pastors a megachurch in New York.

Keller is the author of “Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just,” a popular book that argues that evangelicals should do more than preach personal salvation; they must “speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.” He is a role model for many younger evangelicals.

“God loves and defends those with the least economic and social power, and so should we. That is what it means to ‘do justice.’ ’’

CNN.com recently contacted Keller to see if he would talk about "Generous Justice" and how it might apply to health care and the poor. Did he think pastors in Bible Belt states should say anything publicly on behalf of poor people being denied basic medical insurance? His publicist said she would contact Keller with the request.

Several days later, she returned with Keller’s answer.

He had no comment.

John Blake - CNN Writer

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/11/08/the-obamacare-question-pastors-shun/?hpt=hp_c2

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